NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — It was a big milestone for the Statue of Liberty as she turned 125 years old. Lady Liberty was dedicated in New York harbor on October 28, 1886.
A dazzling fireworks show, a flotilla of ships up New York harbor and much more helped mark the celebration on Friday.
Photo Gallery: Celebrating 125 Years
With a 3-2-1 countdown, webcams streaming views from the statue’s torch were switched on. The cameras offer panoramas of the Manhattan skyline, the Hudson River and Liberty Island.
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“It’s really a wonderful way from people from around the world to connect with Lady Liberty using today’s technology,” said David Luchsinger, the superintendent of the statue and Ellis Island.
The birthday party would conclude later Friday with a 12-minute fireworks display choreographed to patriotic music.
Scores of immigrants waved tiny flags after taking the oath of U.S. citizenship at the foot of Lady Liberty. The new Americans, 125 immigrants from 46 countries, pledged to renounce foreign power, then posed for photos with their citizenship certificates.
“We are a nation of diverse people,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said during the naturalization ceremony on Liberty Island. “And that diversity strengthens our nation.”
Famed historian Kenneth Jackson of Columbia University says the 151-foot colossal Neo-Classical sculpture is an unmistakable emblem.
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“I think it’s not only the preeminent symbol of freedom in the world, but really the preeminent symbol of the United States,” said Jackson. “I know there is the Washington monument or the Capitol building or the White House, but you know those are governmental things. I think that Lady Liberty standing in New York harbor really does represent what we would like the United States to be.”
Jackson says we haven’t always lived up to the ideals in the Emma Lazarus poem at its base, but says it sets a standard for us. Mauro Castano, who has been in the country for 30 years, was honored to be a part of the ceremony.
Castano helped make the special cake – a sweet replica of Lady Liberty — for the day with his brother-in-law, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro.
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Valastro said the cake is about 12-feet-tall and weighs approximately 400 to 500 pounds.
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Starting October 29, the monument will be getting a $27.25 million makeover to make the interior safer and more accessible.
Once completed, the interior of Lady Liberty will have new stairways and elevators as well as upgrades to water, electrical and fire suppression systems.
For more information about the Statue of Liberty’s 125th anniversary, click here.
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